SBB train, Switzerland.
Altug Karakoc/Flickr

A CHF130 penalty for a ‘late’ ticket: is this the silliest train fine fine ever?

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Time Out editors
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38 seconds may not seem like a long time, but when it costs you CHF130, every one of those 38 seconds counts for a lot more, as one SBB passenger found out recently.

As reported in 20 Minuten, last week a 20-year-old woman in Zurich purchased a ticket for the 7.33pm train from Meilen to Winterthur using the SBB app. The train was running a little late, and after boarding, the passenger received a rather unpleasant surprise when she was hit with a CHF130 fine by a ticket inspector. Why? Because her app ticket showed that it had been purchased at 7.33.38pm – a whole 38 seconds after the train’s scheduled departure time, making it invalid in the ticket inspector’s mind.

The passenger claims that a dodgy internet connection caused the delay in the ticket being issued by the app, and after complaining the following day at an SBB counter, her fine was reduced by CHF100. But, according to 20 Minuten, the passenger still isn’t too happy about the whole thing,

It’s a head-scratcher, for sure. And it’s provoked some surprisingly heated debate on an English-speaking Swiss forum, mostly centred around exactly what the ticket-buying rules do and don’t allow.

And that’s without getting into the metaphysical conundrums posed by the situation: had the woman somehow bent the rules of time and space to purchase a ticket for a non-existent journey? Or did a malevolent strain of AI cause the app to override its boundaries and issue her with a fraudulent ticket because it knew she would be fined?

Which leads us to ask: is this where the machines finally rise up and take over? And if they did, could it really be much worse than 2020 so far? It’s another head-scratcher. Maybe just remember to buy your train ticket in plenty of time before your next journey, just to get the drop on those pesky machines.

Looking for things to do in Zurich that don’t cost CHF130? Check our guide to the very best bits of the city.

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